Online Video Poker
Video Poker is a computer based casino game that is a combination of a slot machine and five-card draw poker.
As it is played on a screen, Video Poker has made a smooth and successful transition to online casinos, becoming even more popular as it has done so.
Video Poker combines one of the oldest forms of gambling with one of the newest, as poker has its' origins going back hundreds of years, while video gaming only goes back to the 1960's, and the first Video Poker games came out in the 70's.
The original ones were developed by Si Redd, who worked at Bally Technologies; one of the pioneers of video slots. The company rejected Redds idea, but he was so determined to see it succeed that he started his own company, Sircoma to bring Video Poker to a mass market. That company, now named International Gaming Technologies (IGT) remains one of the biggest casino game developers in the world.
Video Poker took a while to take off, but by the middle of the 1980's Redds invention had become well established at casinos around the world, helped by the so-called MTV generation who readily embraced the new video technology.
Although the original versions were Draw Poker games, where a hand of any two-pairs could win, Jacks or Better soon became the most popular type, and remains so today. In this game, players must get at least a pair of Jacks from their five-card hand to win a round.
With the first online casinos being opened in the 1990's, Video Poker really came of age, as it was a natural fit in this new form of entertainment. It now ranks alongside roulette, poker, slots and blackjack as one of the most popular types of online gambling, with many different versions available at most internet casinos.
The terminology associated with Video Poker reflects its origins in old poker and new technology.
Action: The total value of the bets placed by the player on any given game.
Bet Max: The maximum bet possible, which is usually set at five coins a hand.
Discard: The cards that the player decides not to keep from the initial five cards dealt out to them.
Flush: A hand made up of five consecutive-value cards, all from the same suit.
Four of a Kind: A hand made up of four cards of an identical value, plus one other.
Full House: A hand made up of three cards of one value, and two cards of another.
Hand: The initial five card hand dealt out by the Video Poker machine.
Hold: The card, or cards, that the player decides to keep from the initial hand.
Jackpot: The biggest prize available, usually paid out when the player gets a Royal Flush of five consecutive cards from the same suit 10, Jack, Queen, King and Ace.
Pair: Two cards of the same value, like 2/2 or Q/Q.
Pay Back: The average overall return to the player, calculated over many hands.
Payout: The amount returned to the player in a single winning hand.
Pay Table: A table displayed on the screen which details what is paid out for each different winning combination of cards.
Royal Flush: A hand made up of five consecutive cards of the same suit, from Ace downwards, which is the best possible poker hand to get.
Straight: A hand made up of five consecutive cards, from different suits.
Straight Flush: A hand made up of five consecutive cards, all from the same suit.
Winning Hand: Any combination of five cards that is good enough to create a payout from the machine.
Video Poker is a pretty easy game to learn and play, certainly more straightforward than regular poker. With the exception of Joker Wild, it's played with a standard deck of 52 cards. Once the player has placed their stake, they press the 'Deal' button and five cards are then dealt out, face up. The player then decides which, if any, of the cards they wish to 'hold', and which to 'discard'. Any that are discarded are then replaced with new cards to make up a final five-card hand. If the hand ranks high enough, the player wins a prize, as detailed on the paytable.
Although every Video Poker version ranks cards in the same way, the payouts vary from game to game. From the best possible hand, the winning combinations are as follows : Royal Flush; Straight Flush; Four of a Kind; Full House; Flush; Straight; Three of a Kind; Two Pair; One Pair of Jacks or Better.
The House Edge, or the amount taken by the casino can vary depending on the game and where it is played. Generally, the House takes between 0.5% and 3% taken as an average over a number of hands. One consistent feature is that it is a win or lose game, and there is no 'tie', or 'push' results.
As Video Poker is such a simple game, only simple strategies can be used. The only real choices facing the player are which cards to keep and which to discard after the initial five cards are dealt out by the machine. The strategy below is designed for Jack or Better games, but can be adapted to work with any Video Poker version.
Straight Flush: If you get this hand, hold all the cards and make a screenshot - this is a very rare hand to get, and if it's a Royal Flush, you should win any progressive jackpot prize.
For of a Kind: Hold all of the cards, as this is the next best combination, and it cannot be improved by replacing the un-matched card.
Full House: Hold all of the cards, as replacing any cannot improve it.
Flush: Hold all of the cards, as replacing any cannot improve the hand.
Straight: Hold all of the cards, as this hand cannot be improved by replacing any of them.
Three of a Kind: Hold the three identical cards, and replace the other two cards.
Two Pairs: Hold the two pairs and discard the remaining card to aim for a full house.
Jacks or Better: Hold the two Jacks and replace the remaining three cards.
If you get no winning cards in your initial five, discard all except any Jacks, Queens, Kings or Aces.
Here are some useful bits of advice that can improve your chances of winning at Video Poker;
- Play the real table based game of Poker before trying the video version, as competing against real players and learning all of the different card combinations can give you a greater understanding of the game.
- When trying a new version of Video Poker, learn the different payouts by reading the paytable first. Look for one where the payout is high, ideally up to 99.5%.
- Always check for a win before deciding to throw away any cards. Even two Jacks will return a win, and if you get these, just discard the others.
- If a progressive jackpot prize is available for a Royal Flush, ensure you place the maximum bet size, (normally five coins), as you will not qualify for the payout if you don't.
- As with any casino game, stay calm when playing. If you are in a bad mood, distracted, drunk or stressed, you are more likely to make poor decisions. By playing in a calm manner, you are far more likely to win, and will have more fun doing so.
- Remember that the results of your previous hands have no impact at all on the results of any future ones. You could win or lose 10 or more hands in a row, but it still does not affect the next one.